My dad, our pap, Bill had never been ill in his life. A strong man who always fought his corner. To him – you rubbed your knee better, got up and carried on running. When he was 79, he went into hospital to get his appendix removed. Soon after, he was diagnosed with cancer.
When dad arrived at Cynthia Spencer in July 2015, he knew it was where he wanted to stay – that he’d be okay there. What the hospice did for him during that time was unforgettable. They let our whole family (and we’re a big family!) have an entire room to ourselves and not once asked us to leave. They didn’t just look after dad, but the family, too. They brought us blankets – practically gave us run of the kitchen – the whole package.
At points, there was a real party atmosphere in our room – it got a little rowdy! The nurses were absolutely brilliant throughout – angels in disguise. They really allowed us that freedom so dad could enjoy those final, special chats with his grandkids and friends. To be honest, we feel incredibly lucky for the experience – it really gave dad peace in his final days.
Dad was an avid Liverpool fan; he began an impromptu singalong of ‘You’ll Never Walk Alone.’ To see dad singing the whole way through, in his hospice bed, surrounded by his whole family – it cut me in half. I remember one of the volunteers bringing around a drinks trolley and asked dad if he fancied his rum and orange. I couldn’t believe it – there you are in a serious situation, and you’ve got people coming around like nothing was a problem or too much of an ask. Dad always enjoyed a rum and orange at Christmas, so having those little bits of normal – these were the moments that really counted.
Dad loved the hospice garden – the trees and flowers, just being outdoors; it was his happy place. At one point, we couldn’t quite push his wheelchair through the woodland area, so me and my wife Maria, in fits of laughter, picked up either side of the chair and carried him around the woodland in it.
When I heard about the Memory Tree, I knew it was the best way to honour and celebrate dad. The leaf not only represents our pap and the amazing care he received, but it’s our own contribution to the next family that needs the hospice’s care – our special way of paying something forwards. I encourage you to dedicate a leaf to a loved one; I wouldn’t be telling dad’s story if it wasn’t for Cynthia Spencer.
For more information about the Memory Tree and to make your dedication please click the button below